Washington, D.C. — Although filled with merriment, the holidays also harbor many dangers, including drunk drivers. Drinking and driving is viewed as a very serious threat by 87 percent of drivers and the related social disapproval is almost universal. However, new data recently released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 1 in 10 drivers reported having driven when they thought that their alcohol level might have been close to or possibly over the legal limit within the past 12 months, and just over half of those (5.5 percent of all drivers) reported having done this more than once within the past 12 months.
The AAA Foundation’s study also found that nine out of ten Americans support requiring all drivers who have been convicted of DWI more than once to use a device that won’t let their car start if they have been drinking. And, 69 percent of Americans support requiring all drivers convicted of DWI, including first-time offenders, to use such a device.
Additionally, a new analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data from 2000 to 2009 found that an average of 80 people a year are killed in alcohol-related crashes on New Year’s Day—almost 2.5 times as many as on the same day of the week in other weeks around New Year’s. In 2009, 73 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes on New Year’s Day. In 2005—the last time New Year’s Day fell on a Saturday—98 people died in alcohol-related crashes on New Year’s Day.
“Drunk drivers put everyone on the road in danger, especially during holiday season which often combines travel with multiple opportunities to consume alcohol,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “Driving is both a privilege and a responsibility. Exploring new technologies, such as interlocking devices, are important to ensuring public safety in conjunction with personal responsibility and law enforcement.”
Every alcohol-related fatality is preventable, and it is everyone’s responsibility to make the right decision before getting behind the wheel. That’s why AAA is asking motorists to visit TakeThePledge.AAA.com to sign a quick online pledge to drive only while drug and alcohol-free this holiday season and all year long. Once you’ve taken the free pledge, you can share it via Facebook and Twitter, or even send personalized E-cards to encourage others to do the same.
The findings were part of the AAA Foundation’s third annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, a nationally-representative survey conducted by Abt SRBI, Inc. The Traffic Safety Culture Index was a telephone survey of 2,000 U.S. residents ages 16 and older conducted from May 11 through June 7.
For more information about the survey and other materials related to drinking and driving visit www.AAAFoundation.org.